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White House Downplays Recession Fears; Planned Parenthood to Reject Funding; Elton John's Warning to British Media; ISIS Regaining Strength in Iraq and Syria; Greenland Sees Largest Single-Day Ice Melt Ever. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 20, 2019 - 04:30   ET



[04:30:39] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: With concerns of a mounting recession, could a new tax cut be on the agenda? What the White House is saying this morning.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Planned Parenthood will forego hundreds of millions of dollars instead of complying with new restrictions. More than a million women could pay the consequences.

BRIGGS: Twenty years after bidding farewell to Princess Diana, Elton John with a warning for British media over their coverage of Prince Harry and his family.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSIK: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. I'm sitting in for Christine Romans. It's 30 minutes past the hour here in New York.

And President Trump and his economic officials are doing everything they can do to downplay any fears of a recession, including knocking down reports the administration is considering cutting payroll taxes as a way to juice the economy. For millions of working Americans, 6.2 percent of their salary goes towards payroll taxes and they're usually used to finance programs like Social Security and Medicare. A White House official said more tax cuts for Americans are certainly on the table, but cutting payroll taxes is not something consideration at this time.

However, Trump has undercut his staffers before when they've said he was not considering something. The president continued to attack the Federal Reserve tweeting: The central bank should cut interest rates by at least 100 basis points to boost the economy.

So, what does that mean? Basis points are a unit of measure for interest rates and cutting the rate as much as Trump is suggesting amounts to a full percentage point and would give the Fed less wiggle room to maneuver if a recession did begin.

Trump's attempt to politicize the Fed is nothing new, but never called for a rate cut as drastic and specific as this one.

Even Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stepping on the Fed.


WILBUR ROSS, SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: We're very upset about the portion of the strength of the dollar that's due to monetary policy by the Fed. We think that our interest -- it's ridiculous. Our interest rates are high relative to many other countries.


KOSIK: Cutting interest rates is a tactic the Fed normally uses to stimulate the economy in a recession. Larry Kudlow is expected to speak with business and state leaders to discuss the economy this week. Kudlow, by the way, was wrong about predicting a recession during the George W. Bush administration.

BRIGGS: Planned Parenthood will reject $286 million in federal funding rather than comply with the so-called gag order on abortion services. The move could affect 1.5 million low-income women.

A new Trump administration rule says clinics accepting Title X funds can talk to patients about abortion but they can't refer women to an abortion provider or suggest where to get an abortion.

Planned Parenthood says being forced out of Title X won't stop them from providing abortions or other services, and they will fight the gag rule in court.

This year has seen several attempts to limit reproductive rights in America with several states passing extreme anti-abortion laws.

KOSIK: A Chicago man is accused of threatening to kill people at a woman's reproductive health clinic. Prosecutors say the 19-year-old Farhan Sheikh posted a threat on social media saying in part: I am done with my state allowing innocent kids to be slaughtered.

He wrote that -- he wrote that as he planned to go to the abortion clinic and, quote, slaughter and murder any doctor, patient or visitor. Sheik faces up to five years in prison if convicted. His public defender declined to comment on the case.

BRIGGS: One thing everyone can probably agree on no winners following an emotional and controversial decision in the death of Eric Garner five years ago. Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who used a banned chokehold on Garner has been fired. The police union is not happy while the Garner family and their supporters say they will fight on.

More now from CNN's Brynn Gingras.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Alison, this was all by accounts emotional for everyone involved in this situation that happened five years ago finally coming to a head and a decision being made. [04:35:06] Police Commissioner James O'Neil firing Daniel Pantaleo,

the officer who was scene on video giving a chokehold to Eric Garner back in 2014, essentially ended his life. It was emotional for the police commissioner as essentially said that he's been a cop for 34 years and now, he's in this position of administrative role where he had to make a final decision knowing that the rank-and-file were not going to be happy with it.

JAMES O'NEILL, NYC POLICE COMMISSIONER: Carrying out the court's verdict in this case, I take no pleasure. There are absolutely no victors here today. Not the Garner family, not the community at large and certainly not the courageous men and women of the police department.

GINGRAS: Of course, his decision is in agreement with a trial judge who decided that Pantaleo needed to be dismissed from his duties at the NYPD.

The incident surrounding Eric Garner sparked and really even put a spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement as it sparked protests around the city for several days after that day back in 2014, in July. As far as the Garner family, well, they are still hurting.

GWEN CARR, MOTHER OF ERIC GARNER: You can appeal all you want, but I'm still out here, I'm out here for the long run. You come out here against me, I'm out here.

GINGRAS: The PBA says that Pantaleo, he is upset that he lost his job. They plan to take whatever recourse as necessary as well. So, an emotional time for the NYPD and it's one that many hope can be the final word about this incident, but certainly something that the city can heal from its past.

Alison and Dave, back to you.


KOSIK: OK, Brynn, thank you.

California passing what may be the strictest standard of use of deadly police force. Governor Gavin Newsom signing a new law known as Stephon Clark's Law after an unarmed black man was killed by police last year. California police will no longer be allowed to shoot at fleeing suspects unless they pose an immediate danger. The new law also stipulates law enforcement can only use deadly force when necessary as opposed to when it is reasonable.

Governor Newsom tells CNN the new law is important because, quote, we can't accept the status quo. Stephon Clark's law will go into effect January 1st, 2020.

BRIGGS: Social media giants Twitter and Facebook taking action against China for using hundreds of fake accounts to create discord among protesters in Hong Kong. Twitter suspending almost 1,000 Chinese accounts and banning advertising from state-owned media companies. Facebook said it's removing five accounts, seven pages and three groups because of deceptive tactics.

The takedowns reflect the extent to which disinformation has become a global scourge, far surpassing the efforts by Russia to stoke social unrest in the U.S. during the 2016 election.

KOSIK: Pop legend Sir Elton John slamming the notoriously intrusive British media over their coverage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. In a flurry of tweets he said he was deeply distressed by distorted and malicious stories after reports of the family taking a private plane to France made the rounds online, suggesting the royal couple's mission to protect the environment is a sham.

In his flurry of tweets, John defended the couple's use of the private jet saying he and his husband paid for it and they also made sure the flight was carbon neutral.


BRIGGS: Elton John, a long-time friend of Princess Diana, said he felt it was his job to protect the royal couple from the media. In 1997, Diana, Prince Harry's mother, was killed in Paris during a high speed car crash. At the time, seven photographers were charged with manslaughter, all of the charges were eventually dropped. John rewrote and performed this version of "Candle in the Wind" at Diana's funeral.

Ahead, she took a lot of heat for forcing Al Franken to resign. Does Senator Kirsten Gillibrand believe in a second chance for Franken? Hear what the 2020 candidate says.


[04:43:35] BRIGGS: New concerns this morning about ISIS regaining strength in Iraq and Syria five months after its territorial defeat. "The New York Times" reports the Islamic State is conducting guerilla attacks and U.S. defense officials acknowledge the terror group's stands to be a lasting presence.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh covered ISIS extensively on the battlefield and joins us live from London.

Nick, good morning to you. Part of this "Times" reporting refers to $400 million in cash they have to operate with.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this essentially is money that seems to be off extorting businesses or perhaps things kept behind. Remember the end of ISIS as a territorial caliphate wasn't something they saw suddenly coming out of the blue. They had years to prepare for it.

And it seems that this money is a series of things causing concerns amongst U.S. officials. Those concerns have been for an incredibly long time. Actually as we saw still the beginnings of insurgent attacks in the desert. This is a huge expand territory.

But really three issues that are causing this to percolate back up through the surface. Now, the first one, the enormous camps being held to hold ISIS supporters and ISIS prisoners. There are tens of thousands and if you see the footage coming from it, a hotbed of ISIS sympathy and there are makeshift prisons and other prisons that are popping up to hold the fighters and foreign fighters, too.

[04:45:00] Many of whom home countries simply do not want to take them back at this point.

Then, you also have the broader issue of the U.S. presence there and always being as muscular as it would like to be a cap imposed by the White House, which often means they get to do what they want at that particular point. And then the third issue is this is an in insurgency, and the broad point you have to realize is can't kill your way out of that particular problem, as many officials like to say. Solutions to insurgencies you have seen with the Taliban and Afghanistan and al Qaeda and else where, anywhere in the world really are economic and diplomatic.

And that part is extraordinarily missing from ISIS. Of course, that sort of radicalism is hard to contemplate talking to them. But the reconstruction effort that was supposed to come in after destruction of Raqqa, after the destruction of Mosul has been slow. There are huge sways, but frankly where Iraqi security forces don't tend to go as much as the U.S. say and the inspector general report would like to see them go.

And so, the root cause was grievances among the Sunni population and those were never addressed. Over the years, they turned increasingly radical and they turned to most revolting version of that radicalism, ISIS, to express their viewpoint militarily. That spawn what we saw on the global stage as ISIS. The reason that came around, simply wasn't part of the package that the Obama administration initiated but was taken over by the Donald Trump's White House. They killed the problem very easily, but the aftermath they're dealing with here could be for decades.

Back to you.

BRIGGS: Yes, killing that ideology, difficult if not impossible. Nick Paton Walsh, live for us in London, thank you.

KOSIK: Jeffrey Epstein signed a will two days before his death. "The New York Post" obtained the document which lists Epstein's assets at $577 million. The report further refutes conspiracy theories about his death. Epstein who was jailed on trafficking charges died from suicide by hanging in prison, according to the New York City medical examiner.

William Barr now removing the acting head of the federal Bureau of Prisons. Last week, he announced the warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York would be reassigned. Union officials say prison resources have been stretched thin by budget cuts and a hiring freeze.

BRIGGS: She led the charge to get him to resign, but now, New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says a path to redemption for former Senator Al Franken. Gillibrand was the first senator to call on Franklin to resign over sexual misconduct allegations in 2017. She since repeatedly defended her role despite angering many Democrats and potential 2020 donors.

But at a "Washington Post" live event, she said this about Franken.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's always room for redemption of anybody. We're a country that believes in second chances. We believe in someone who has humility, who comes forward to say they're sorry and they have paid consequences and want to reemerge. That's always there for everyone.


BRIGGS: Gillibrand was also asked about the controversy surrounding Mark Halperin's recent book deal which has angered many Democrats. Gillibrand said, quote, it's not for me to judge.

KOSIK: OK. So, this isn't your ordinary 10 cent dime. Oh, no, this dime just sold for $1.3 million. This 1894 S Barber Dime was sold at a Chicago coin auction. It's one of the only 24 ever made and one of the only nine that still exists. It was purchased by Utah businessman Dell Loy Hansen. He's an avid coin collector and working towards a collection of every coin ever made by the U.S. mint since 1772. He needs six more coins to complete his collection and they are not available for sale.

I can't remember the last time I even touch a dime.

BRIGGS: No, me neither.

Talk about extreme couponing. Disneyland just honored a woman's 30- year-old free admission ticket. Tammy Richardson is from the Edmonton suburb of Sherwood Park, Alberta. She was planning a girls' trip to Disneyland with her mother and some daughters when she found the coupon from her first visit to the park in 1985 when she was 14.

Disneyland was celebrating its 30th birthday by giving out prizes to every 30th guest. Richardson held on to the pass she won for a free return visit for 30 years, and finally used it this month. Back in 1985, admission cost $16.50. Now, they're at least $90.

KOSIK: The song of the summer just got knocked off its perch.


KOSIK: That 17-year-old Billie Eilish has knocked "Old Town Road" from the number one spot atop the Hot 100.

[04:50:00] "Bad Guy" is the first number one hit for Eilish. She rose to fame only in the past couple of months. A few weeks ago, "Bad Guy" was re-released with a verse by Justin Bieber, giving the song a fresh boost.


KOSIK: "Bad Guy" dethroned Lil Nas X's country rap song featuring Billy Ray Cyrus after its unprecedented 19-week run at the top.

Here's a fun fact for you: Eilish makes history as the first artist born in the 2000s to have a song the hot 100.

BRIGGS: Now, just try getting that song out of your head. Good luck, everybody.

A heartwarming gesture caught on video. Joe was a homeless man living on the streets of New York City. He says he was sitting with his sign saying he is hungry and that his shoes are broken. So, he took them off to see if someone would help him with some money to buy a new pair. That's when a jogger passing by noticed the holes in Joe's sneakers and gave him the shoes off his feet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been blessed pretty much my whole life. God has been very nice to me and he took off his shoes and gave them to me. I wanted to hug him, I wanted to like the hug the guy but a homeless man hugging somebody out here is not normal out here.


BRIGGS: No, it is no.

Joe said at first he thought it was a set up. As for the jogger who remains unidentified. He walked away barefoot. Be careful, it's New York City.

KOSIK: I'm amazed the shoe fit.

BRIGGS: I guess it might have been the same size. Nice gesture.

KOSIK: All right. You might want to double check your trip on Southwest Airlines before you book a flight next year. CNN Business has details for the airline, next.


[04:56:17] BRIGGS: President Trump having a little fun with all the speculation surrounding reports that he's considering buying Greenland. President tweeting this picture promising not to build one of his signature large Trump properties in Greenland, however, there are more serious matters here. Climate scientists discovering troubling signs under a glacier there.

CNN's Frederick Pleitgen just back from assignment in Greenland. He's live in London with more.

Fred, good morning.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Dave. Well, I can tell you, it was an awe-inspiring and humbling mission that we went on there with NASA scientists. And you're absolutely, while President Trump seems to be talking about acquiring Greenland for the U.S., NASA is busy trying to find ways to possibly save the ice there.

Now, we went on a research mission called the Ocean's Melting Greenland Mission and you're seeing some of that on your screen there. They're trying to map out not just how hot our air is contributing to the melting of the glaciers and the ice cap there. A record year for ice melt in Greenland and in general in the Arctic, but also how warmer ocean water is leading to some of that attrition, as well.

Some of the findings that we had on our mission were absolutely troubling. There was one glacier where they dropped the probe and they found up to a depth of about 2,000 feet, a little more than 2,000 feet, there was warm water along a glacier face and they say that was super charging the ice melt. Of course, that is not just going on in that glacier but generally going on in glaciers in Greenland.

One of the things that NASA said is that we humans generally people have to really start getting serious about combating climate change or face the consequences. I want you to listen in to what the chief scientist had to say.


JOSH WILLIS, OCEANS MELTING GREENLAND LEAD SCIENTIST, NASA: There's enough ice in Greenland to raise sea levels by 7 1/2 meters. So, it's an enormous volume of ice that's about 25 feet and that would be devastating to coastlines all around the planet.


PLEITGEN: So, they're saying it would be devastating. Some people should seriously start thinking about in the future maybe moving away from some of these coastlines that could get ravage. So, certainly, if you look at that, the folks in Greenland right now thinking of different things and whether or not they will get acquired by United States and President Trump, Dave.

BRIGGS: Yes, far more urgent things ahead of them.

All right. Fred Pleitgen live for us in London this morning -- thank you.

KOSIK: OK. Let's get a check on CNN Business this morning.

First, let's look at the, mats around the world. Asia markets closed mostly lower. European markets have opened slightly higher. And on Wall Street looks like features are treading water there, barely moving.

Stocks began the week on a positive note. The Dow jumped 250 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both closed a little over 1 percent higher. Investors focused on the White House's optimistic view of the future

and not on economists' increasingly negative outlook. The National Association From Business Economics said 74 percent of business economists believe a recession is coming in the next two years.

If Southwest is your go-to airline, you may want to check if they still fly to where you want to go. Southwest Airlines is dropping nearly 20 nonstop routes next year in order to free up their planes for other routes. Most of the routes are to and from Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas and Orlando.

The flight cuts are part of Southwest's latest schedule extension. A spokesperson for their airline said one stop service between the cities will still be available. Southwest will stop operating those routes on January 6th, 2020.

BRIGGS: OK. Thanks to all our international viewers for joining us. Have a great rest of your Tuesday.

For our U.S. viewers, EARLY START continues right now.


BRIGGS: With concerns of a recession mounting, could a new tax cut be on the agenda? What the White House is saying this morning.